1I got writers block with Experiment so I decided to give this a try to get my creative juices flowing. This is a side story to Experiment, although you don't have to have read that to read this.
WARNING: I am ashamed to say, I have only seen seasons 1, 2 and 5 in full, and only some of 3 and 4, so whilst I know there was a Raj/Howard accidental kiss, and that Bernadette and Howard are engaged, and yada yada, I have no idea when those things happen and so forth. So, any mistakes regarding how this relates to the actual show, grin and bear it, chaps.
Howard really didn't know when it had happened. Maybe it was the countless weekends spent talking into the early hours of the morning as they played Grand Theft Auto, that awkward accidental kiss that they vowed never to mention, or that time they woke up cuddling after a drunken night out. So, no, he had no idea when it happened. All he knew was he looked up to see Raj weaving through the crowded nightclub to bring their drinks and it hit him. He was in love with his best friend.
Not his girlfriend, his beautiful blonde, loving, caring female girlfriend. Not Bernadette, with her adorable voice, perfect hair and gorgeous body. But Raj, his amazing, faithful, trust-worthy best friend who had stuck by his side for years ever since they first met. At first he tried to deny it, tried to make himself believe it was a phase and it would pass. He bought a ring and proposed to Bernadette. The feelings for Raj left. Life was perfect. Until he accidentally ingested peanuts and had to be driven to the emergency room. Bernadette, who had unknowingly given him the source of the nuts, had freaked out and burst into tears, refusing to do anything but cry on Raj's couch and claim it was all her fault. It was Raj who gripped Howard's arm firmly, guided him into his car and drove him to the emergency room. Bernadette had barely noticed they left.
After that day, the feelings he felt for Raj came back in full swing, and at the same time he started to realize that Bernadette was not who he had thought. He began spending more and more time with the guys and less time with her, and eventually he decided to break it off.
Oh, she had cried, yelled, screamed at him for almost an hour. She'd thrown one of his action figures and called him every name in the book. Nearly five minutes later she was sobbing and pleading with him not to leave. It only furthered his resolve, and he stayed firm. Eventually, she left, and blocked him on Facebook. A petty thing to do, really, but he didn't blame her. He'd promised her a wedding, a family, a life, and then he'd taken it all away. But he couldn't provide a real life for her either. Not when he didn't really love her and was mooning over his best friend. A very male best friend at that.
He hadn't told anyone about the break-up, but that didn't mean Bernadette hadn't. He had no idea who knew and who didn't.
It took him a month to finally do something about it. A month, he reasoned, was plenty enough time to get over the fact he and his fiancé had broken up, A month and he was ready to seduce Rajesh Koothrappali.
They were sitting in Sheldon and Raj's office (the former having already finished work due to an early appointment), drinking red bull and whining about having to go to Leonard and Sheldon's for HALO that night. Neither of them wanted to go because of Sheldon's new habit of making the loser team, normally Howard and Raj, treat the obnoxious man to new comic books. When they refused, Sheldon didn't let them play.
'He's bloody crazy,' Howard was saying as he stretched out, watching Raj, who was writing some kind of equation down into a notebook. It was always interesting to just sit quietly and watch Raj work. 'And although my wallet can take the strain of buying him comic books every single week, I just plain don't want to.'
'No kidding,' Raj didn't look up, continuing to scribble in his notebook. 'I was thinking about ditching tonight anyway. Stay at home or something.'
Howard's body tensed when he realized this was the kind of opening he'd been waiting for, and excitement grew as he considered his options. He couldn't come on too strong. Although Raj was the gayest-acting man he knew, that didn't mean he wouldn't freak out if his best (very male) friend started coming onto him. He chose his words carefully. 'I was thinking along the same lines,' he said slowly. 'That new chinese restaurant opened up last month, maybe we should check it out.'
'Yeah, sure,' Raj finally looked up, and it was like a punch to Howard's stomach when those brown eyes met his. 'But what are we going to tell Sheldon? He freaks when someone screws up his plans.'
'Tell him we have to work late,' Howard shrugged lightly. 'Say one of your highly important telescopes needs fixing and I'm helping you with it.'
Raj made a agreeing noise and tapped out a text to Sheldon. 'Done,' he said after he finished. He took a swig from his can and tilted his head. 'Should we make a reservation?'
'Good point,' Howard pulled out his own phone, called the restaurant. After a few moments he hung up and grinned at his friend. 'We're in luck, they have a table for two available at six.'
'Sweet,' Raj returned the grin and chucked his empty can into the rubbish bin. 'We have two hours to kill until then, you wanna raid the comic book store? I spilt coffee on one of my Batman comics, so I need to replace it.'
'Yeah, sure,' Howard stood and shoved his phone back into his pocket, struggling with the impossibly tight jeans. 'Has Sheldon replied?'
'Yup,' Raj held his phone to his eyes, reading the text. 'He said that we're not very good friends for putting our unimportant work in front of HALO night, and that we each got one strike.'
'Ahh, screw him,' Howard walked towards the door, rolling his eyes. 'His online class is easy after the first few hundred times.'
Raj followed him, grinning. Inside, Howard was mentally celebrating. Finally, a chance to put his plans into action. Looking over at his best friend, Howard just hoped that this wouldn't crash and burn and ruin their friendship. There was no way he'd be able to handle Dr Doom without Raj by his side.
Howard had talked Raj into changing. He'd said that going to a new restaurant was an occasion that deserved to be honored by wearing nice clothes. That was why, half an hour later, they arrived at Chow's Chinese dressed for all the world like they were on a date. In Howard's mind, they kind of were.
'This place has really good decor,' Raj looked all around him as he followed Howard to their table. 'We should tell Sheldon, he'd love a place like this.'
'No,' Howard glanced at the menu as they both sat down opposite each other. 'He'd have a fit when he realizes they serve more than chinese food. Remember when he got upset that the Cheesecake Factory doesn't just have cheesecakes?'
'Good point,' Raj froze when the waitress appeared at their table, staring down at his lap and cursing his shyness. Now he couldn't even order.
'Hi there,' the waitress grinned at them both, and Howard knew exactly what she assumed. Two men on a date. If only that were the truth. 'My name is Ashlee and I'll be serving you today. Can I take your orders?'
'Sure,' Howard glanced up at Raj, who held up three fingers. Third dish on the menu, then. 'I'll have the egg dish and he'll have the butter chicken,' there was a pause and he frowned slightly. 'Wait, the egg dish doesn't have peanuts, does it?'
'No, its nut free,' the waitress scribbled down their orders in her little notebook. 'Would you like anything to drink while you wait?'
'Water will be fine for me,' Howard grinned at his friend. 'But I think he'd appreciate a glass of wine.'
'Of course,' the waitress smiled. After asking what kind of wine they wanted, she left for the kitchen, and Raj let out a sigh of relief.
'You really should try and do something about your selective mutism,' Howard told him as he placed the menu card back on the table. 'Its getting a little scary how well I can understand you when you can't talk.'
'I've tried,' Raj complained softly, mimicking Howard's actions. 'But everytime I see someone they try to put me on drugs and you know how well that turned out last time.'
'Couldn't take you anywhere without you accidentally knocking something over with your flailing limbs,' Howard chuckled. In the comfortable pause that followed, he drummed his fingers on the table, thinking things over. Let Raj have a small amount of wine, not enough to get him drunk, but enough to make him more relaxed and open. Then go with him back to his place and... Howard sighed. His plans turned to mush past that part. What on earth was he supposed to do then? Declare his undying love? Not likely. As the waitress came back with their drinks and left again, he watched her retreating back. Things were so much easier when he was trying to seduce women. At least he wasn't worried he'd lose a best friend if he screwed things up.
'This wine is good,' Raj commented after taking his first sip. 'You should have had some.'
'One of us needs to drive home,' Howard shrugged as he played idly with his napkin. 'You know how you get when you drink,' he paused. 'Which is why you should probably only have that one glass.'
'I know, I know,' Raj rolled his eyes as he set the wine glass back on the table. 'You don't have to remind me.'
They both winced, both thinking about the accidental kiss. Howard wondered if getting Raj drunk would result in another one, but to be honest, he didn't want to take advantage of his friend. Besides, he wouldn't have the excuse that he was just protecting his girlfriend when Raj sobered up. They both glanced up when Ashlee returned.
'Here you go,' the waitress placed their orders in front of them with a big smile. 'Is there anything else you need?'
'No, thank you,' Raj, emboldened by the wine, smiled at her. Howard frowned slightly, worried that he might be attracted to her, but to his relief, she left seconds later and Raj seemed to forget all about her. 'Mm, this stuff is way better than at the Cheesecake Factory.'
'Don't let Penny hear you say that,' Howard grinned as he took his first bite. Flavour burst on his tongue and he arched his brows. Raj was right, it was substantially better than the Cheesecake Factory. 'We should come here more often,' he said with a smile.
Raj nodded as he took another sip of wine. The alcohol was having some effect, Raj was loosening up and relaxing, even in a restaurant with plenty of attractive women around. He grinned at Howard over the table and leaned forward. 'So, how are you and Bernadette? I haven't seen her in a while.'
'Oh,' Howard was thrown for a moment, at a loss for what to say. He pushed his egg dish around on his plate, avoiding eye contact. 'We, ah... Broke up.'
'What?' Raj frowned, putting down his glass and staring intently at his friend. 'When? Why? How come you didn't tell me?'
'Last month,' Howard shrugged, taking a tiny bite to give him a reason to stop and think. Finally, he swallowed and said, 'I didn't tell you because I needed time to think about it without other people butting in.'
'Dude, are you okay?' Raj looked concerned, reaching out and patting Howard's shoulder. The smaller man almost smiled at the hesitant contact. Neither of them were any good with talking about feelings.
'I'm fine, I was the one who broke up with her,' Howard rested his cheek in his palm as he spoke, watching as Raj's face turned from concern to surprise. 'She was pretty upset though. She won't talk to me.'
'Why did you break up with her?' Raj was frowning now, hands playing with his napkin. 'I thought she was everything you ever wanted. Pretty, smart, kind...'
'She wasn't who I thought she was,' Howard breathed in, took a risk. 'To be honest, we were drifting apart for a while. I thought proposing would fix it, but it didn't. I considered breaking it off, but I never went through with it until I had to go to the emergency room. You remember that night, she just bawled her eyes out. You were the one who ended up driving me there, not her,' Howard smiled slightly at his friend. 'I guess you're the only one I can really rely on, other than my mother.'
Raj returned the smile, shaking his head as he did so. 'You've really matured, you know that? A couple of years ago you wouldn't have cared that she wasn't the right one for you.'
'Yeah, well,' Howard polished off his egg dish, Raj doing the same with his chicken a few moments after. 'I was a dick a couple of years ago. I guess you're a good influence.'
This brought a wide smile to Raj's face. The Indian had been intensely lonely until he had met Howard, and he considered his friend in high esteem. To be told that he had helped Howard along the road to maturity made him unbelievably happy. 'Hey, you want to come back to my place to watch the new Green Lantern movie? I bought it last week.'
'You bought it last week and haven't watched it yet?' Howard raised an eyebrow as they paid for their food and started to exit the building. 'How busy have you been?'
'Not very,' Raj shrugged lightly and aimed a smile at Howard over the car as they reached it and stood on opposite sides while the man unlocked the doors. 'I was waiting until we got a chance to watch it together.'
The words caused a funny feeling in Howard's chest that he was slowly getting used to. He was touched that Raj would put off watching the movie just for him. He grinned to himself as Raj started the car and pulled out onto the road. During the car ride, he kept glancing over to his friend, watching the concentration on his face. Perhaps they were already halfway to a relationship. Leonard's mother certainly thought so.
In no time they were curled up on the couch, sitting a tad closer than ususal, with the movie playing and a bowl of popcorn within easy reach. Howard wasn't paying much attention to the movie, though. He was watching Raj out of the corner of his eye more than he was the movie. Around halfway, Raj shifted his position on the couch and suddenly they were a whole lot closer, thighs almost touching. Taking the opportunity, Howard stretched and twisted, letting out a fake sound of pain. 'Damn, I must have pulled a muscle in my back or something.'
'Really?' without asking, Raj shifted once again, this time so he could place his hands on Howard's shoulders and rub gently. The smaller man bit back a moan of appreciation- Raj really did have magic hands.
'Mhmm,' he tilted his head, not even looking at the screen now, enjoying the feeling of soft hands roaming across his shoulders and down his back. 'Had to help Ma move some boxes this morning, might have been that.'
'You poor thing,' Raj joked softly. He himself was more focused on the massage than the movie. He could feel something rising between them that he'd never felt before. It took him a long time to finally realize what it was- sexual tension. Once he'd thought it, the relaxed mood he was in vanished, to be replaced by jittering nerves. Suddenly his hands were shaking and he desperately hoped Howard couldn't feel it. Of course, he'd had relations with men before. He was accustomed to that. He'd also known for a long time that he was attracted to Howard, and he was used to that too. But he'd never even considered the possibility that something might happen. But now, in the near darkness of his apartment with Howard relaxed and open to touching, he was starting to wonder. His voiced slightly choked, he murmured, 'your turtle neck kinda gets in the way, dude.'
'Want me to take it off?' it was the most suggestive thing said all night, and Raj was silent for a few moments. Howard was starting to worry he'd gone too far, but then he heard the Indian man chuckle and felt him remove his hands.
'Go for it,' there was a pause as Howard yanked his shirt over his head, followed quickly by his turtleneck.
Howard had been shirtless in front of Raj countless times. Those times he hadn't cared about the way he looked, if he was too small or too pale. It was just Raj, and Raj wouldn't judge. But now, as he sat, almost shivering from the cold and the knowledge his friend was about to touch him again, he felt suddenly nervous. Well, more than he already was. He couldn't help but hope that Raj would like what he saw. He felt warm hands on his shoulders again and he almost jumped, but soon he was relaxing under the soothing sensations.
He felt himself grow hard, and almost groaned to himself. This was certainly not the time to be sporting erections. If Raj saw it, it might freak him out. He tried to think of the worst possible things to distract himself, like his mother in a bikini and kissing Sheldon. It would have worked, too, if Raj's hands hadn't moved lower down his back and grazed across his particularly sensitive sides. Distantly, he realized the movie was over, but neither of them made any move to turn off the TV or even move. Howard bit his lower lip and had to force himself not to buck his hips. 'Mmm, Raj, lower.'
The darker man leaned forward his chin was almost resting on Howard's shoulder, his lips brushing the man's ear as he spoke, 'like that?' his hands were low now, almost at the smaller man's hips. His eyes were drawn to Howard's lap and with a jolt he realized the man was hard. He'd seen it before, but knowing he was the cause made him a good deal more excited.
Howard knew he really shouldn't do anything too forward, in case it scared Raj and ruined their friendship. But with strong, warm hands on his waist and his friend's face so close to his own, he couldn't help it. He turned around abruptly so they were facing one another, grabbed Raj's jacket and yanked him forwards in order to press their lips together hard.
They had kissed once before, but it had never been like this. That time, Howard had been in the stage where he denied to himself that he held any feelings for his friend, and so he'd never allowed himself to enjoy the accidental kiss. Raj had been drunk and barely remembered how it felt like. This kiss, however, they were both sober and willing. Howard was still gripping the jacket in a vice-like grip, and Raj's hands were still on the smaller man's waist. The kiss was rather fierce as a result of emotions kept hidden until now, building and building until they had felt like they were going to burst. The kiss relieved them, calmed them, but aroused them at the same time.
Howard shifted closer, his thigh brushing Raj's and causing the taller man to make a wonderful noise in the back of his throat. One of his hands moved to slide along Howard's thigh and the smaller man drew in a breath sharply, nerves flaring as he broke the kiss. Raj knew that Howard had never done anything like this with another man, and for once the quieter of the two was the most experienced when it came to something sexual. For all intents and purposes, Howard was a virgin, and would have to be treated as such.
'You okay?' Raj's voice was a low murmur, much deeper than usual. His hands were still for the moment, at Howard's waist and inner thigh, letting the man get used to being touched like this by his best friend.
'Sure I am,' Howard licked his lips, trying to put on an air of confidence. He felt kind of stupid now, having seduced Raj straight up to this point, only to start acting like a thirteen year old girl. He avoided eye contact and let out a self-conscious laugh. 'Sorry, this is kinda new for me.'
'That's fine,' Raj smiled at him, hoping to put him at ease. 'We can go at any pace you want.'
Howard, aware of how Raj was treating him so carefully, became embarrassed. He kissed the man again, seeking to hide his embarrassment, or at least have a good reason to close his eyes. He began to relax, sinking into the kiss, but Raj began to move his hand on Howard's thigh in little circular motions, and the smaller man's body tensed up again. Sensing this, Raj began to pull his hand away, but Howard caught it, trapping it with his own. 'Don't stop,' he muttered against the man's lips, his cheeks flushing. 'I just... need to adjust.'
Raj nodded and let Howard guide his hand back to it's original place. His fingertips slowly trailed up and down the tense thigh, which began to relax after a few moments. Howard started to enjoy the sensation, new but familiar, and his arousal began to mount, causing their kiss to become more heated. After a while, Howard relaxed fully and began to crave more intimate touches, but Raj was still moving agonizingly slow. He waited for what seemed like forever, moving his hips and making noises to try and encourage his friend, but the hand didn't roam any further up his leg. Frustrated, he grabbed it with his own and pressed it to the bulge in his jeans, both of them making surprised noises.
Raj pulled back from the kiss, watching Howard with a little smile as his hand slowly began to rub the stretched material. The smaller man's eyes were closed, and he let out a little moan that sent a jolt of arousal straight to Raj's cock. Painfully hard, the Indian squeezed gently and leaned forward, catching Howard's earlobe with his teeth and tugging on it. 'Shall we move to the bedroom?' he breathed, causing Howard to shudder.
For the first time, Howard awoke the morning after sex to find himself being held tightly, instead of the other way around. He was half lying across Raj's chest, his head resting on the man's shoulder and he was perfectly happy to let it stay there. Raj was lying on his back with his arms tightly around Howard's shoulders. Howard found he liked being held. His eyes drifted shut and he relaxed, content, until his damn brain woke up enough to start shooting worrying thoughts at him. What if Raj considered this a one night stand? Something never to be spoken about, like when the heat went out or their accidental kiss? Not once during the night had either of them mentioned feelings. They'd just kind of... attacked each other. Howard shifted slightly, then let out a moan of pain. Damn, he was sore. Well, it should be expected from his first time having sex with another man. He hadn't wanted to be on top so it was his own fault, really.
Raj moved slightly before his eyes fluttered open, looking at Howard sleepily. Howard cursed himself for making a sound, he'd wanted to avoid the awkward morning after talk as long as possible. His mind raced for something to say, anything to break the silence that was starting to get a little awkward, but before he could think of anything better than good morning, Raj leant down and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead. 'What time is it?'
Howard glanced over at the alarm clock on the bedside table on Raj's side. 'Eleven in the morning,' he replied, trying to hide his confusion. He hadn't expected Raj to be so... cool about this.
Raj grunted and rolled over so they were facing each other. They were so close that the movement forced Howard to shift back a little to make room, and he winced as another bolt of pain hit him. Raj noticed this, and he moved one of his hands that had been originally resting on the small of Howard's back to rub the man's side in a soothing gesture. 'Are you hurting?'
'Pretty fucking bad, to be honest,' Howard flushed at how close their faces were, cursing himself immediately afterward for how he was acting. They'd just had sex, for god's sake, why couldn't he handle a little eye contact? Maybe it was because it was his best friend, and not some nameless woman he'd met in a bar. Maybe it was because he had no idea if this was a one time thing or not, and Raj wasn't making things very clear. Either way, Howard was nervous and on edge.
'I'm sorry,' Raj murmured, leaning forward to kiss Howard's forehead again, before resting his chin there. Howard's chest contracted at the action, and his heart fluttered. 'I shouldn't have been so rough, it was your first time after all.'
'No biggie,' Howard shrugged, grateful he didn't have to maintain eye contact. It made things easier. 'We both got carried away.'
An understatement. Howard, caught up in the moment, had urged and goaded Raj into going as hard as he could, which was significantly harder than the smaller man had expected. Even with the lube it had been painful, but it only added to the pleasure. Right now, though, with his lower body aching like hell, Howard was cursing himself for it. He was glad it was the weekend, so they didn't have to go to work. He was pretty sure he'd be walking funny, and that someone would notice.
Raj leaned back so he could look down at his friend, and there was a serious look in his eyes. 'Listen, Howard, what did this night mean to you?'
Jesus, Howard thought. Straight to the intense questions without any warnings. 'It...' he considered lying, but he didn't really see the point. 'It meant a lot, I guess.'
'Is this going to be a one time thing?' Raj asked, his hand still trailing up and down Howard's side.
'I don't know,' there was a long pause, and Howard glanced down. 'I don't want it to be.'
'Neither do I,' Raj smiled. 'Maybe we should go out to dinner, you know, officially.'
'I don't think I'd be opposed to that,' Howard couldn't help but return the smile. 'We could go to that sushi bar we went to the first time we met Penny.'
'Sounds good,' Raj kissed him, and it was just as amazing as he remembered. 'It's a date.'
Sorry for the cut off but I hate writing sex scenes. I'm too immature... even with the small sexual moment before the cut off I was giggling a bit.
Well, folks, this is the last piece of writing for the Experiment series. I'm going to miss it.
I'm kind of amused at the fact I chose to write a chapter-fic on Shelnard when I much prefer to write Raj/Howard. They really need a good couple name. Roward doesn't seem to fit. Haj? Woloppali? Why is this so difficult?
Please review and tell me what you think!